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Be prepared to set firm rules on the things that matter most to you, but be open to negotiating rules such as how to earn more screen time. The Family Contract for Smartphone Use from ConnectSafely is a good tool to help you set specific rules and responsibilities for both children and parents. For more information and advice on deciding when to get your child a smartphone, check out When Is Your Kid Old Enough for a Smartphone? While setting rules is an important part of helping your child establish healthy smartphone habits before they hit adulthood, they still need to understand why these rules exist.

An excellent way to explain smartphone rules to kids is to talk about how you use your smartphone. Although this may cause you to question your own smartphone habits, it can teach your child the potential advantages and hazards of smartphones.

How We Tested Cell Phone Monitoring Software

By setting an example your child wants to emulate, you become a powerful influence in developing healthy smartphone habits for your child. If your child has an iPhone, you can take advantage of its built-in Screen Time parental controls to place restrictions on apps, purchases, explicit content, Siri, privacy and other settings. While Screen Time may not have the comprehensive tools of some parental control apps, it might meet your needs and save you money in the long term. Screen Time is available on devices running iOS 12, which was released on September 17, Google also has an app called Digital Wellbeing, which allows you to self-restrict app access on devices running Android 9.

This app is geared towards adults tracking and managing their own screen time, but we like the potential of using this app to help older children and teens learn about healthy smartphone habits. However, it also has a few unique features such as an extensive library of kid-friendly books, videos, games, audiobooks, apps, and educational content. These are the current parental control offerings from the four largest U. If you need legal advice before using parental control apps on your kids' phones, you should contact an attorney or legal counsel.

Because wiretap laws vary by state, we do not advocate using smartphone parental apps to record phone calls, either audio or video.

The Best Parental Control Apps for Your Phone

Best cell phone companies Find the right phone carrier for you. The best cheap smartphone deals in June Best prepaid phone plans know your data. Verizon Wireless review. Cellular One National Plan Review. Qwest Cross Country Review. Liberty Wireless Review. Look for apps with clear-cut reports that make it easy to track relevant information. We especially liked the colorful reports in Qustodio. Most programs let you choose from a variety of reports, including monthly or hourly reports with graphs, lists of frequent contacts, browser history, newly installed apps, message history, calendar events, pictures taken, GPS location and keystrokes.

You can set a window of time when your child can access apps and the browser and adjust it whenever needed. Some of the apps we tested allow you to remotely unlock the phone for a few minutes of open access if your child requests it. It's essential that the parental control smartphone app you choose lets you restrict access to other apps and the internet.


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Choosing an invisible app can make it more difficult for your child to bypass the restrictions on their phone. Though these apps support most common smartphones and carriers, not all are compatible. It's important that you double-check the brand and model of the phone you want to monitor so you don't waste money on incompatible software. Most developers have extensive lists of compatible devices on their websites. Each of the apps in our comparison works on Android and iOS devices. Features are generally more limited on iOS than Android because Apple maintains strict control over the operating system.

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Best Parental Control Apps for Your Kid's Smartphone | Digital Trends

You need to have physical access to the target device to install the software, as none of them can be installed remotely. Some features require a rooted Android or jailbroken iOS device. Because of the inherent risks that come with either of these processes, we do not advocate doing so. Jump To:. Versatile, powerful and trustworthy, Mobicip is the best in class.

mSpy Parental Control Solution

Surfie is your best parental control software choice for tracking and notification. To track your child's location using Family Sharing, follow these steps. You can also track your kids with the Find My Friends app. Instead of opening the Find My Friends app each time you want to check your child's location, you can follow this short cut in Message:.


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  4. In order to monitor your child's screen time and usage, you will need access to their device. Follow these steps to see a full report:. Outside of your phone, there are tons of apps out there that will help you monitor everything from your child's social media usage and alerts to whether or not they are speeding while driving. This app has so many useful features including social media monitoring, location tracking and alerts, and more. Social media monitoring is one of the most helpful features.

    You can also be aware when inappropriate language or indication of bullying are posted to their profiles by building your restricted words list. You can also get notifications when your teen drives or rides over a speed limit you set. There are several plan options including a free version. Get it on iTunes.

    This free app allows you to instantly lock and unlock your child's Android device remotely from your own device so that you can enjoy more quality family time, or help your child focus on schoolwork or sleep. You can choose from three modes: "Dinner Time" pauses any activity for up to two hours; "Take a Break" pauses any activity for up to 24 hours; and "Bed Time" pauses any activity for any given start and end time, while still allowing kids to access their alarm clock.

    The free version of DinnerTime works on up to two kids' devices, controlled by up to two parents' devices. Screen Time lets parents remotely monitoring the amount of screen time kids spend on their mobile devices. Screen Time lets you set daily time limits, assign tasks to your kids to complete like homework, see which apps your child uses the most, and more. Our favorite feature? Instant pause, allowing parents to instantly pause their child's devices.

    Animal videos! Skateboarding demos! Retro cartoons! YouTube is an obvious source of free entertainment for kids — but it doesn't always feel like a safe choice. You can create custom kid profiles, block channels or videos, keep tabs on their watch history, turn search on or off, set a timer to limit kids' screen time, report videos, and more. For example, the app lets you know if your child is exceeding a speed limit that you set, hard-braking, alerts you off their location while driving and when parked, and more.

    Want to send a strong message when your child repeatedly ignores your texts and phone calls? This forces the child to call the parent back in order to unlock their phone.